Saturday, August 27, 2016

Leave it in the Lamp of the Gods. 8-20-2016

Saturday... high temps, drought. It is baby snake season and potentially hatchling turtle season as well. We picked a spot in Bristol County to try our luck but didn't leave as early as we'd hoped. Still, we arrived at the parking lot a little after 9 AM, ready to give it all we've got. Our quest? Find 10 species of herps despite the arid conditions.

A dilapitated house and garage near the beginning has brought us luck before but this day, we struck out. No worries, our next stop delivered a shoestring Garter... first baby of the day.
For some reason, this lil tyke was unphotographable... out of about 20 shots, this blurry one is the best one between us.

The river that winds through this place was dreadfully low. Still, it is usually very deep, so there is water for drinking and water for being a Painted Turtle in. The guys were taking a break for some rays.

A sandbar had popped up in the middle of the low river. It looked like we'd recently missed a Snapper traversing it.

It was very dry, indeed. Leaves crackled under our step and dust kicked up all around. There was some moisture in the grassy areas and under logs in the shadows. It was the latter that had a small Redback under it.

A large vernal pond had completely dried up. The muddiest areas were covered with bird and mammal prints, leading us to think that is any tadpoles that were unable to metamorphize before home dried up, at least became food for something. This Wood Frog hopped out from under a rock in the mud.

Near the river again, some wet-loving animals were present... a small Green Frog...
and a fabulous Painted Turtle.

Like we did on our previous visit, we decided to reverse our path and take back trails to the midway spot. This brought us through the appliance graveyard where last month, we found loads of Garters in the Magic Blanket and the Magic Raft. They weren't so magical this time, though. The Magic Sleeping Bag, however, knocked our socks off. 4 newborn Garters and a subadult... here's a shot of one baby and the subby... the others slowly crawled away... as did these two after these photos.

Back out to the path, this little guy was found under a bag... full of lunch and ready to grow big and strong.

Though most of the plastic black tarps that are strewn around the back woods here were too hot to touch, much less house snakes, a couple of noodnicks were in the shadier parts.

Heading back towards the river, we were pleasantly surprised to see that a small brook that babbles across the path still had some water in it. It also had a couple of Green Frogs relaxing.

It was there that Andrea spied our first Pickerel Frog of the day.

As we got to the river, we realized that we had broken the Pickerel seal and we started seeing a lot of them.
Bristol Pickerels

From the usually rushing falls, we spied some Painters way out on a perch.
They didn't last long... a large Heron decided he wanted the log.

As expected, the other side of the waterfall was dry. No water has been spilling over the falls so the bottom part was dry for about 30 feet out, until it got deeper and gets fed from a pipe that pours water out from who knows where. We walked out the rocks, flipping in hopes for Two-Lined Salamanders, eels and baby turtles. We noticed a bridge that we'd never really seen before, though it's visible from all over.
The rocks in the foreground of that shot are usually about 2 feet under water.

Persistance paid off and I finally nabbed a Two-line under a moist rock.

I have to admit that fatigue had set in and we were still a couple of miles out. I could easily have slept on the forest floor. We pushed on. I decided that, even though I was toast, I wanted to look at a reliable turtle log upriver and have a look at a rocky area behind where we saw the first baby Garter of the day. I still had Milks and Ringnecks in the back of my head,

The turtle log was occupied by two Painters but there was a noisy asshole fishing nearby and his booming voice scared one into the drink. I focused on the remaining turtle and much to my delight, the other one hoisted back up while I was ready.

OK, we got to the  shady, wooded part with a bunch of rocks and cement pieces to flip. In my daze, I started flipping, saying something like "When was the last Milk we've even seen here? Seems like forever..." As so rarely happens, it was then that we flipped a Milk. A good sized one, starting to shed.
Looks like a new one for us, according to markings.
It's super sucky weather to be stuck in shed, so we filled my hand with water and offered it a drink. It didn't take any but I rubbed water on its head and body a little. We released her where we'd found her and were happy to see some clumps starting to peel off.
Good night, sweet girl.

So, we wound up with only 9 species but saw our first Milk at this place in a few years so we were pleased. Tenacity paid off... no naps in a pile of pine needles, no drownings and plenty of frogs in the middle of a serious drought. A tribute to our prowess as naturalists? No... just decent luck.

1 comment:

  1. and prowess as naturalists
    and persistence
    how come you're so tired lately mr mike?